The Ghost Town Tour, or GTT has become an annual event for the folks on the Expedition Utah forum. Below is the report from the 2015 trip. If you’d like to join us on the next GTT which will be sometime in the spring of ’18, follow either the link in this paragraph or use the links menu option to visit ExpUT and sign up!
Ghost Town Tour
This was a group run, ExpUT Ghost Town Tour ’15, that was organized in the contributing members section. We had ten members, plus many family members attend. Attendees, besides myself, included CobraNutt (Gary), ROKTAXI (Marty), frieed (Eric), Kevin B., I Lean (Carl), lordhelmet (Doug), Maxterra (Dave), Bryson and LFNTMS (John).
We all camped Thur. night near the “2 + 2” kilns near Frisco. Marty and Eric arrived first, then myself, with the rest of the crew trickling in and joining the camp fire bull session until bed time.
One half of the two plus two kilns.
Friday morning we got an early start and made the short hop to Frisco, where everyone spread out to have a look around at the mining relics, kilns, cemetery, old building remains etc.
A couple of pics from Frisco.
From Frisco, we travelled over the pass and a short distance north to the ghost town of Newhouse. Quite a bit of building remains and tons of “old stuff” laying around. If you are into that kind of thing (I am!), it’s a neat site. We poked around there a bit, figuring out much of how the rail lines for ore cars, milling and refining operations etc. must have been laid out.
We found this roll of ancient conveyor belt canvas near part of the mill remains.
Next up was a stop at the Wah Wah Springs ranch. Founded by the Squires family, the earliest permanent settlers in the area, the ranch was founded in 1870, before the mining boom towns sprang up in the nearby mountains. No doubt the Squires did a brisk trade in beef with the mining towns.
From there we went to the Desert Research Experimental Station. It was abandoned the last time I had been there, some years ago, but apparently it has been reoccupied and research being done for ten years or more now. I found the place much spiffed up, with fresh paint and weeds well under control, compared to my previous visit.
Then we left the highway again, this time for a long stretch, and eventually ended up at the Revenue Mine in Pine Grove canyon. Upon arrival I was immediately disappointed to see that the largest building present on my last visit in 2013, had been burned down. Boo!
What it looked like in 2013.
What it looks like now…
Never the less, Pine Grove is a gem, just a gorgeous place to relax and have lunch and play for a bit before hitting the trail again.
After lunch at the Revenue mine, it was back on the trail to our next stop, the ghost town of Stateline. Stateline is one of the best ghost towns anywhere, too much to see in a short visit but we did our best!
From Stateline, we headed south down Modena draw, stopping to visit the Modena Cemetery (I took no pictures here), before turning north again and finding a killer-cool campsite for everyone at the Etna Mine.
We had a great campfire that night, lots of good information, tech talk, BS, laughs etc. were exchanged. Good times!
Saturday morning, most of us got up early and headed up to look at the Jennie mine and Gold Springs. What a disappointment… It’s been about 15 years, give or take, since I had last visited here. What was once probably the biggest, best preserved, coolest, most awesome, “wild” historic mining mill site in the West, has been “reclaimed” and now looks like this…
I had read about it already and knew what I was going to see, but, seeing it in person, it still felt like a bit of a gut punch. What a shame…
Gold Springs was a little bit better, a few of the better cabins near the road are still neat to visit, though it seems that all of the lesser, more run down cabins I remember from my last visit had seen the same fate as the mill.
We returned to camp and picked up the rest of the party, then continued our journey to go visit the ghost town of Fay, Nevada. Not much remains standing in Fay, even the cemetery has suffered the ravages of a forest fire last year. But, it’s still a very interesting site, with tons upon tons of “stuff” just laying around to poke around in and look at.
Next up, was another gem, Deer Lodge, Nevada. What a cool, picturesque site! It’s basically a ghost ranch – founded and run by the Hackett family, more than a ghost town, but there is a lot of well preserved stuff laying around. One of the more interesting things, I thought, is this old car and the story that goes with it.
The story is, that one of the two Hackett sons bought the car, right before getting shipped off for World War II. He left his car and said he’d be back for it. Well, as you can see from these next two pictures, both brothers died in the war and never came back. So their car, never went anywhere either.
More from Deer Lodge.
Next stop was Modena, UT, not quite a ghost town, but with plenty of long abandoned buildings, the most prominent of which is the old Lund Hotel.
From Modena we hit the dirt again, seeing what we could see. We were running ahead of schedule when I spotted something that might be interesting on the GPS so we made an unplanned side trip that turned out to be really cool. It was an old CCC camp – I know not the name, but it was quite extensive at one time. Must have been home to hundreds of men, to judge by the layout of the tent city and the number and size of foundations to be found by walking around out in the sage brush. We identified a couple of the foundations as a garage and a shower house, but no telling what the many others were.
And all that was neat enough. But, you ought to see the swimming pool they had! Mind you, this thing is just out in the sagebrush and cedars. Nothing around for miles and miles. You could easily go by without seeing it, the desert has gone so far in reclaiming it.
From the CCC camp, we continued towards our camp destination in the Star mining district of the Picachio mountains.
About 40 miles from camp, Kevin’s truck quit running. Long story made short, probably fuel pump. The experience, knowledge, skill and composure of this crew was just off the charts when it came to handling a mechanical difficulty on the trail. I wish I could take Bryson with me everywhere! Carl too.
Upshot though, is Eric strapped Kevin the 40 miles or so from there to camp, without drama and we still got to camp in time that I had my tent setup and had eaten my rib eye steak and fried taters before dark. Hat’s off to you guys!
Another great campfire ensued. With much desert making and eating. It was fantastic!
Sunday morning, was a parting of ways. Kevin’s truck decided to start running again, but with no way of knowing for how long, Eric, Carl and Bryson elected to head out with him and make sure he made it okay.
Dave, Marty and myself decided to poke around the area of South Camp and Shauntie in the Star mining district for a few hours before heading home. Wow! Is there a TON of stuff to see around there! Mines, upon mines, upon mines. Some sealed, but most open. Mining debris and relics all over the place. We didn’t even start to scratch the surface in one morning, but visited several cool mines – going hundreds of yards into a couple, which is as far as I want to go!
Some pics from Sun. morning in the Picachio mountains.
And that, is about it! After my transfer case was briefly stuck in neutral, just an uneventful drive home from there, for me.
A huge thanks to everyone who came on this trip! Never seen a better functioning crew on a group run. Getting ten rigs through over 300 miles of dirt in two days, seeing as much stuff as we saw, and everything was just tight and right and running on rails the whole time. You guys rock.
4 thoughts on “Annual Ghost Town Tour”
I really, really enjoyed your pix and narrative Dave. One of these days I keep saying and it’s getting closer now that I’m retired. TAJ45
Thanks Tom. I hope one of these days is real soon!
I’ve noticed every vehicle has a short wheelbase and above average clearance.
Guess I need to get a different vehicle before I go on a GTT.
My full size pickup is probably too long and too wide for most of that terrain.
What air pressure were you running in the tires ?
Great pics and story telling, as always.
Here is a link to what the CCC was about:
Jody, a stock full size would actually do just fine on the GTT. There’s just a few spots where it would get some new scratches. Some of the shelf roads would be kind of sketchy too, but my friend Kevin has taken his mostly stock F-150 on every GTT and done just fine.
That said, you are right about almost all the rigs being shorter wheel base, lifted and running bigger tires. It’s the direction most people go for an offroad rig. But, really not necessary for this trip!
On my Jeep, on a trip like this, I run my tires at 18 psi. That’s a setting for comfort. It really helps soften the bumps and smooth out the washboard but I’m still fine running 60 MPH on them at that pressure. For maximum traction, I air them down to 12 psi. Which is about as low as I dare go with these particular tires and non-beadlock wheels.
That particular CCC camp is still kind of a mystery to me. Most of the CCC camps in Utah, I can find a lot of information about them. But I haven’t found anything about this one, and it’s big, as far as Utah CCC camps go. I know of several smaller camps that I can find published history about, but so far I’ve not found a word about this one. I’m sure somebody knows. Hopefully, they’ll comment!
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